COP21 – find what we can each contribute

It’s hard not to be overwhelmed (bouleversé, knocked over) by the intensity, complexity, sheer scale and fascination of a Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)…

Thousands of people milling about with one common purpose in minds: how to bring our world back from the brink of catastrophic run-away climate change and create the chance for a safer future for future generations of all species.

Delegates in the streets at COP21Yet the variations on that theme, the multiple strands of work programs, policies, politics, places and people make a bewildering kaleidoscope of sights and sounds.

How to pick you way through it all, how to keep balanced and focused and make some small meaningful contribution to the whole?

I’m reminded of a car sticker one sees occasionally – Practice random acts of kindness.

It’s not a bad start and could be a wonderful mantra for all parties at COP21. The stirring speeches from our world leaders have been heard, but did they resonate deeply enough with our negotiators, still struggling with text and dynamics of difference?

Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute provided a valuable overview for community delegates, suggesting that one crucial step forward will be to form a bridge able to transfer much-needed finance for he world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.

If we all had a mindset to find what we can each contribute rather than what it is we each need to protect and maintain, we might all get further faster.

Collaborative enthusiasm at COP21Yet, since Copenhagen in 2009 I see great signs of progress in the collaborative work between continents, individual countries, between science and faith and policy.

Evidence from Myanmar at COP21One emerging theme for me today was the role of agriculture and land management. I attended a session run by Wageningen University in the Dutch Pavilion (where, may I say, they always seem to provide delicious food and drinks). The European Union’s GCCA+ program provided insights into the African Caribbean Pacific program, with the honour of hearing from Ethiopia, Myanmar, Burundi, the Maldives, the Seychelles.

I’ve taken notes, recorded brief videos and clicked a million photos – I’ll digest and share what I can. But for now, I’m off to an action about another elephant in the room: Low Carbon Transport.

Kisilu with Philippa

Kisilu with Philippa

I stayed here at Le Bourhet late last night so I could watch this film×68 It’s the story of Kisilu, a Kenyan smallholder farmer, who used a camera to capture the human impact of climate change over a four-year period.

Ian Campbell from ABC Radio in Bega did a late-night interview with me:

For detailed updates on the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, visit – the New Internationalist media hub #NICOP21.

See also the New Internationalist magazine special issue on COP21. It discusses what a good outcome would be on the major issues under discussion.  

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